Mike Locicero thinks White Sox Fans tend to be harsher than Cubs fans.
“For whatever reason, if you talk to [Sox fans], they will tell you a good day in the summer is when the Sox win and the Cubs lose,” said Locicero, a lifelong Cubs fan.
That rivalry has fueled the creation of “Sox vs. Cubs: The Chicago Civil Wars,” a new exhibit opening May 16 at the Elmhurst Historical Museum.
The exhibit will feature video clips of fans, team announcers, sports media, players and baseball historians waxing poetic about the rivalry. Fans can also view memorabilia including historical photos, buttons, pennants, all things Cubs and Sox. Interactive quizzes will gauge their skill in historical knowledge.
While doing research, Curator of Exhibits Lance Tawzer has learned just how important the Chicago rivalry is to city and suburban dwellers and how far back it goes.
“The Chicago Cubs were playing baseball when Custer was making his last stand,” said Tawzer. “The White Sox were playing baseball before the Wright Brothers flew. This is historic stuff. I wanted to find out whether the fact that generations of Chicagoans have grown up with allegiances to certain teams fosters these allegiances for future generations.”
The exhibit is also an opportunity to piggyback on the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, he said.
Tawzer has been working with Locicero and another Elmhurst resident, Sal Vasta, a longtime Sox Fan, to create an exhibit featuring their memorabilia and their stories.
“Both of these guys are true blue for their team,” Tawzer said. “Both go to spring training and have season tickets. They collect and they treasure what they collect.”
Their memorabilia will be spread side by side with a divider and a video in the center, giving them equal time and space.
Locicero’s Wrigley field stadium seats will likely be the center of attraction. His wife gave them to him as a birthday present one year, he said.
Like so many baseball fans, Locicero’s loyalty to his team stems from childhood memories.
“I’d come home from school and sit in front of the black and white TV and I’d watch the Cubs. One of my best memories was the ’69 season, hoping the team was going to finally make it,” he said. “Even though they didn’t, it was still one of the memorable seasons.”
Locicero even met his childhood hero, Ron Santo. “I was an Italian kid. I played third base. I identified with him. He always had time to talk to the fans about baseball.”
Locicero and White Sox fan Vasta have known each other since they were kids and were involved in youth baseball. Vasta’s ribbings are good-natured, Lociero said, adding, “I did pull for the Sox in ’05 when they won the World Series. I thought that was great for the city.”
He admits as a Cubs fan, he was envious. And he has to endure the questions from Vasta and others: How can you keep following the Cubs? They’re losers. Naturally, Vasta’s memorabilia from the 2005 World Series will be laid out for all Cubs and Sox fans to see at the exhibit.
Tawzer insists he’s remained neutral while developing the exhibit. He went to both Sox and Cubs conventions and talked to announcers from both teams.
“I’m trying to be as objective as I can,” he said. “I’ve been to games at both ball parks. I love Wrigley Field for the heritage. But U.S. Cellular Field has so many more amenities and so many more things for the kids to do.
“I interviewed Len Kasper [a play-by-play announcer for the Cubs] — in his television booth at Wrigley Field and he said he can feel the intensity from the fans when the Cubs and Sox compete.”
Tawzer can get by without declaring his allegiance to one team, because he’s from California. “I’m an [Oakland] A’s fan.”
As for the director of the museum, Brian Bergheger, he’s a Cardinals fan, “so nobody talks to him,” Tawzer said.